Chef Darren Weiss of the popular Manhattan Beach restaurant Darren's was born with only 5 percent hearing, classifying him as profoundly deaf.
Now, the talented chef is bringing his menu to Chelsea in Hermosa Beach in March, after shuttering Darren's in Manhattan Beach at the end of January.
Darren said his restaurant, which opened in 2007, closed for several reasons including the increase of minimum wage, expensive rent and food cost increases.
Darren's brother Seth opened the eatery Chelsea 10 years ago and now the siblings are joining culinary forces ... and coming to terms with Darren's deafness by screening a documentary made about his life.
Chelsea is a separate room adjacent to the Underground Pub and Grill. They share a liquor license and kitchen. While the Underground is a sports bar and the menu reflects that, Chelsea has the feel of a lounge.
Around two-thirds of Darren's menu, mostly chef-driven gastro pub fair, will replace Chelsea's current menu, while Underground will keep its menu for now. The Chelsea menu will have a lower pricing point than Darrens in Manhattan Beach.
“It's fortunate that a lot of what's coming already exists ... Darren may end up 'chefifying' some of the Underground menu as well and, in time, you can get the food on either side,” Seth said.
“It was becoming a big hassle to manage the front of the house and the back of the house, do the accounting, be executive chef, do everything without making a lot of money,” said Seth, adding the Manhattan Beach landlord was fair, but it was “still just a lot of money.”
The family is hosting at Chelsea a premiere of the documentary “Chef Darren: Meeting the Challenge of Profound Deafness,” on Saturday, Feb. 23. The screening is full, but Seth said the will have a repeat screening during the revamped Chelsea's soft opening in approximately two to three weeks.
The documentary was directed and produced by Dorothy Fadiman, a childhood friend of Darren and Seth's father Bernie. It features interviews with the Weiss family about the challenges of raising a profoundly deaf child. It also documents Darren's rise to award-winning chef while he and his wife raised their son Noah who has no hearing loss.
Darren said the documentary was filmed nearly three years ago and was an unusual experience for him.
“I was nervous and never forgot the camera was there,” Darren said.
Seth is also featured in the documentary and said he was glad he saw it for the first time by himself.
“It was sad, but uplifting at the same time,” Seth said.
For more information, visit chelseapubandlounge.com.